With His Heritage of Makers Going Back 500 Years, Calgary Furniture Designer, Sumer Singh Innovates For the Future

By Laura Goldstein

The organic Plote and Prov Tables are made from a hand-molded plaster process invented in the 17th Century. Photo: MTHARU

Talk about pressure to succeed! When you come from a long line of artists, poets and authors, an engineering degree alone just didn’t cut it for Calgary’s Sumer Singh. His passion for the arts dictated his continuing education at ACAD and Vancouver’s Emily Carr University in jewelry and textile design, sandcasting and later earning a Masters in Architecture. The New Delhi- born maker formed MTHARU in 2013. “The name means ‘sword hilt maker’, the occupation of one of my ancestors and my first name was also my great-grandfather’s. He was a well-known artist in India and as a writer used that pen name, Singh explains. “The very foundation for everything I do comes from free-thinking, breaking boundaries, and pursuing honesty, whether it be in myself or in my creative process,” he confides.

Furniture designer, Sumer Singh researches like a scientist and mathematician then post-digitally, hand-sculpts many of his pieces. Photo: MTHARU

Sumer Singh’s MTHARU furniture is showcased at the SwitzerCultCreative showroom, 1725 West 3rd Avenue.

Heavily focused on digital technology when designing, Singh then integrates a myriad of sculptural techniques afterwards by hand, some based on ancient practices. Add a dash of mad scientist and you get his newest Plote and Prov Tables. Based upon a complicated geometry called Photogrammetry that enables Singh to make 3D models of an object on the computer from a sphere and a cylinder, machines and human hands later sculpt the tables. Using the technique known as scagliola the colouful veined material in which plaster mimics marble in both strength and appearance, was invented in Italy in the 17h century. It can be buffed and is more resistant to scratching than marble and also not as expensive. The results are highly durable pieces that resonate in the garden, on the patio and indoors. And, their colours are customizable in almost any palette.

One of his earliest designs, the Jouir Table is both curvaceous and streamlined. Photo: MTHARU

The Jouir Table one of Singh’s earliest designs, continues to be a classic in the furniture maker’s repertoire: a continuous role of curvaceous steel is embellished with welding “scars” using melted bronze. “It’s the scars that give us strength as people so why hide them?” he asks. The Sentric Table continues Singh’s exploration of welding scars but this time with black steel juxtaposed with shiny melted bronze for a striking contrast.

Singh was inspired by the geometry of ocean waves for his design of the translucent Del Mar Collection. Photo: MTHARU

The Del Mar Collection of tables and side tables simulates angular translucent ocean waves. Originally produced in smoked grey and rainbow-like dichroic glass they are also available in aluminum.

Fe is designed to be a stationery rocking stool made from a single sheet of steel and can be customized to fit beneath a kitchen counter, island or as a bar stool.

Fe is a comfortable rocking bar stool or can be customized to reach kitchen counters & islands. Photo: MTHARU

The prolific Singh has also delved into lighting with the Kamino Lamp. Sculptured from cement, latex and basalt, the organic floor or table lamp takes on the shape and patina of an archeological find. The Sagrada Pendants, resembling woven baskets, use energy efficient LED lighting and can be made in a variety of finishes including textured metal tone powder coat, black steel, copper or brass.

Solving complex mathematical problems combined with rigorous research into raw materials and finishes is Singh’s forte. He participated in New York City’s annual ICFF international furniture show in the Javits Center recently and has designed limited edition plant stands for West Elm and Fe Stools for Steven G. Interiors in Miami. 

 “I want to be constantly evolving,” says Singh. We’ve never been a company that was scared to try new things. Collectibles, not mass production is what’s important to us.”

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